Most of us then used UUCP to send and receive our email, usenet, etc from the Net. A typical call lasted 15 to 20 minutes sometimes.
Only the rich power-users could afford to log in more than once a day, it was too expensive otherwise. And the service providers were charging an arm and a leg per hour, with a monthly contract total of say 30 hours.
Around that time, one of the local members of the user-group posted to say that he had sent an email across the Net to the US, and had received a reply within 10 minutes! We were astounded at the speed of that turnaround.
Also about then, somebody told us that they had heard that the total number of computers on the Net had reached a whole million. Again, we were astounded. We literally couldn't envisage that within a decade, that number would reach billions.
And don't get me started on how twitchy I got when the 'always-on' broadband era arrived. I kept getting thoughts of thousands and thousands of dollars of provider charges racking up every month. <grin>
Though computers were less powerful and network speeds were comparably slow, web pages were mostly really lightweight back then, not the bloated monstrosities we have today (though even then there were some atrocious ad-infested websites, which were slow.. but not 10 minutes per page slow, in my experience).
Also, I seem to recall that downloading my first mp3, which was about 3 MB in size took around 30 minutes back in the day.
I don't doubt that downloading that 4 MB file and viewing that webpage was as slow for you as you reported, but I do wonder if maybe you were using a really old modem for they day. I think by the time I first started accessing the internet I must have had a 9600 baud modem, and not many years later switched to 56k ISDN. How about you?
PS: I just remembered that pretty early on in the web's history, I read about some study which found that if a website responded in more than 200 milliseconds, most people considered that slow, and I remember thinking that that observation fit pretty well with my experience. So I think pretty much from the beginning websites must have overall been responding in well under a second as a rule, and even back in the day taking a full minute (nevermind 10 minutes) would have been considered unacceptably slow.
The ability to resume an interrupted transfer was a huge benefit in the ZMODEM protocol, as compared to its predecessors XMODEM and YMODEM.
There were lots of innovations in this area, many of them having to do with how unreliable modem connections could be (both in terms of possibly un-hardware-corrected line noise, and in terms of the risk of having your connection hang up in the middle).
I sure felt safer when I was downloading a big file with ZMODEM rather than XMODEM. :-)
I miss my 9600 Baud Hayes external modem...
Kids these days won't understand the feeling that you got when the modem connection noise sounded right, and you knew you were going to get a good speed, and when it sounded off – even though you eventually connected at a certain speed, you didn't trust it...
9600! Looxery, Lad! For many years 300 baud was the maximum I had. Then 1200, 2400, and at long last 9600! And those damned things were hundreds of dollars.
deserves an upvote just for the closing <grin>
One of the local UUCP group mentioned above habitually used
At home, moving up from a 300/1200 external modem to a 9600bps internal (backplane card) was huge.
I was first on Usenet in 1986. My employer didn't have a full-time connection then, just a modem that would autoconnect every few hours to upload and download email/Usenet/etc. This was before domain addressing, where you would have to give a full navigation path from a well-known server like decwrl or uunet. I was literally the first person in my company to put my long form email address on my business cards (before @(domain) addressing).
E: uBlock Origin rule to block the footer on e.g. Firefox Android:
Usenet is sorta like mastodon and Reddit combined.
One day I saw an ad for a portable dishwasher on the Usenet for-sale in my area. Contacted the guy (email? phone? I can't remember). We connected, and I bought it. I think both our wives were astonished at what computers could do.
Took the dishwasher with us to Colombia a couple years later, and sold it a few years later for what I had paid + shipping. Now say that about your modern internet purchases!
I'm still bummed that everything went to the web instead of trying to fix the moderation problem on the Usenet. I have never seen an online discussion forum as fast and featureful as my old Usenet client.
no, that didn't work. and that's a lot of the reason that usenet died.
no matter how many of the regulars in any given group might killfile the local trolls, there was always at least a few people that did almost nothing but spar with them, filling the group with information-free dross that nobody sane was interested in. and there was nothing stopping the trolls from mutating their email addresses frequently, in an attempt to evade killfiles.
hacker news is more-or-less drama-free because the mods have the power to remove disruptive users. if you'd try to apply a killfile-like solution here, HN would be long dead by now.
I have similar thoughts. Perhaps solving that problem would still count.
More realistically, for all the places where a web-of-trust model fails moderation seems like the perfect fit for it. I see no reason we can't have multiple teams of moderators whitelisting/blacklisting different content in the same namespace, with their changes applied only to users who opt-in.
Remotely accessible shared modems had some amusing security flaws: "PC Roulette" was a fun game you could play by connecting to a modem in some city and typing "A/" to redial the last number it called, to discover all kinds of weird random BBSs, Unix boxes, FidoNet nodes, and other services.
>In the late 1980s, Telenet offered a service called PC Pursuit. For a flat monthly fee, customers could dial into the Telenet network in one city, then dial out on the modems in another city to access bulletin board systems and other services. PC Pursuit was popular among computer hobbyists because it sidestepped long-distance charges. In this sense, PC Pursuit was similar to the Internet.
>PC-Pursuit (Telnet) flat rate off-peak modem calls
>"Doing PCP all night can be legal. ;-)"
>[Moderator's Note: There is an interesting history behind the whole thing.
Prior to about 1984 when PC Pursuit began operation, Telenet had their
data network going, which dates from sometime in the 1970's. Like the
phone network, it was busy all day and almost deserted all night. Telenet
started PC Pursuit as a way to make use of all the facilities sitting
idle all night long. I was one of the first half-dozen or so users to
sign up for PC Pursuit when it started operation back then. They used
a clumsy, rather tedious call-back system where you dialed in, entered
your (authorized) call-back number, disconnected and waited for their
return call to put you on the network. There were about five cities we
could call in the beginning, at 300/1200 baud only. PC Pursuit was
greatly improved upon as the years went by. For many years they even
offered unlimited access between 6 PM and 7 AM for $25 per month. It
was such a good deal they eventually had to put limits on the amount
of time people could use the service each month without extra payment.
I would not be surprised if they are now swamped beyond their capacity
to handle the traffic. PAT]
>The PASSWORDS are varied. They are initially registered to the user in the format of XXXXyyyy where XXXX are four letters and yyyy are four digits...
>NOW, your saving grace from people changing their passwords is that Telenet charges $5.00 for each password change... So this helps...
What a great business model: charge customers $5 to change their password! Why didn't I think of that???